This is weird. It's an Idol show filled with a lot of good music . . . and two performances of the same bad, bad song. (As anyone who knows my family is well aware, this is hardly the first or fiercest Adam vs. Kris showdown in history.) Randy came straight from the set of Revenge of the Nerds VI: The Musical, Kara dressed up like a good songwriter, Paula found her true self as the queen of the plant fairies, and Simon wore a flippin' jacket. Nice!
"Mad World" was Adam at his best, up to that point. He's so much better, shockingly enough, when he's subdued. And Adam subdued is still pretty whoa. Good song, good performance, good start; and he's the only guy who could have begun the AI finale with a slow non-love-ballad and not fallen flat.
But the real stroke of genius was the producer choice of Sam Cooke's "A Change Is Gonna Come." R&B has been calling out to Adam all season long. Here's the thing: Adam is the kind of guy who needs to pour his heart out every time he sings. Led Zeppelin and Aerosmith aren't good vehicles for that, and the end result is a frivolous cheesefest. I still prefer Sam's version, but Adam reached his AI peak on that song.
But when the last song, "No Boundaries," hit the fan, his voice sounded strained, tired, and entirely uninspired by the slop he was singing. That's okay. It was still a good night for Mr. Flamboyert. Sorry. My depleted bank of nicknames and I are glad this season is almost finished.
I didn't remember Kris's version of "Ain't No Sunshine," being one of his better performances, but . . . crap, that was pretty dang good. I've pretty much let go of my Krisdain (I told you, the word play tank is on E, big time) to the point that I've almost got a man crush on the guy. Stop, season, stop!
Next came a truly inspired rendition of another grade-A song choice, "What's Goin' On?" It was so Gaye. I mean, it was probably Kris's best performance of the season, too. Randy and Simon both called it too light and casual for the big stage and the grandiose nature of the night, but they were dead wrong. What they failed to realize (and what Kris capitalized on) was the fact that these two guys aren't competing on a big stage, they're competing in people's living rooms.
That's why the final song was such a huge goose egg for both guys. Kris's version of "Happy, Happy Dream Song" was slightly less offensive than Adam's, but the song that was too cheery for a guy in black mascara was too Diva for the crooner next door. That piece of crap song didn't fit either of them, because neither of them are . . . pieces of crap. Okay, I'm done.